Self-Driving Cars Test Track Coming to Orlando Area

The City of Orlando has announced that it has partnered with several local academic, private sector and government agencies to form the Central Florida Automated Vehicle (AV) Partnership. The Partnership has been working over the past several weeks on the development of a proposal that could have the Central Florida region designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) as an Automated Vehicle (AV) Proving Ground.

The Florida Automated Vehicles (FAV) program (different from this new partnership) was established in 2012 to lead the state in developing best safety practices, education models, and promote awareness for AVs and the relevant technology. This program continues today and includes several pilot projects and an annual summit to share ideas and best practices.
If selected, this designation would make Central Florida one of the nation’s premier clusters for research and development of automated vehicle technology across all modes of travel. Joining with other designated entities to share best practices, Central Florida will provide the foundation for this new technology and its safe testing, demonstration and deployment.

The Partnership’s proposal involves research and simulation at some of the area’s universities, including the University of Central Florida and Florida Polytechnic University, as well as safety and policy compliance review with Florida A&M University-Florida State University (FAMU-FSU) Colleges of Law.

Additionally, the proposal specifically outlines the following proposed “test track” facilities:
  1. SunTrax: a long-term partnership between the Florida Department of Transportation’s Florida Turnpike Enterprise and Florida Polytechnic University to construct a new transportation technology testing facility, including a 2.25-mile, oval track designed for high-speed travel and multiple lanes on a 400-acre site in Polk County, centrally located between Tampa and Orlando. The vision for SunTrax includes the build-out of multiple environments, including a simulated downtown urban core, to test transit, vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle interactions with AVs.
  2. NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC): will provide the second controlled testing facility, which offers the ideal contained environment with a vast roadway network and secure access. KSC can conduct controlled extreme environment testing for significant weather events and unusual roadway conditions.
  3. Public highways, roadways and transit: environments like the I-4, SR 540 and SR 528 corridors will provide AVs exposure to complex roadways with varying sections, ingress and egress merging operations, construction operations, both freight and passenger vehicles, work zone safety applications, express bus operations and highway maintenance operations. Transit testing on LYNX’s LYMMO Orange line in Downtown Orlando would explore the use of automated shuttles and automated shared-use vehicles.
USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx is expected to announce the selected entities it will designate as Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds in the first quarter of 2017.

Central Florida AV Partnership Members:
  1. City of Orlando
  2. University of Central Florida
  3. Florida Polytechnic University
  4. FAMU-FSU College of Engineering
  5. Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise
  6. Florida Department of Transportation, Districts 5 and 1
  7. Central Florida Expressway
  8. Lynx
  9. NASA, Kennedy Space Center

Commitments of Support from the Central Florida Community:
  1. MetroPlan Orlando
  2. Orange County
  3. Greater Orlando Aviation Authority
  4. Osceola County
  5. Polk County
  6. Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization
  7. Florida Department of Transportation

Creative Village Development Review Committee Ordinance Amendment Gets First Reading

We told you in December about the desire for Creative Village to create its own Creative Village Development Review Committee (CVDRC) to expedite discretionary permits within the area of the Creative Village Planned Development. City Council will have a first reading of this new Land Development Code amendment on January 23rd. 

Read the Ordinance and the Amendment here

Similar to processes in place for the Southeast Orlando Sector Plan and Baldwin Park, the City  has detailed regulations from the previous approvals that will guide its development. The Municipal Planning Board says this expedited process is warranted and will ensure the timely completion of the entitlement process to match needed construction, financing and infrastructure schedules.

This code amendment was recommended for approval by the Municipal Planning Board at its October 2016 meeting; the minutes of which were subsequently accepted by the City Council on November 14, 2016. MPB's recommended action is approval on first reading. They recommend that the Mayor and City Clerk present the draft ordinance for second reading and public hearing at the next available City Council meeting.

The CVDRC will consist of the following and may provide for other officers as it deems appropriate: 
  1. City planning official
  2. Director of the City’s Transportation Department
  3. Director of the City’s Public Works Department
  4. Executive Director of the City’s Community Redevelopment Agency
  5. Member of the City’s Appearance Review Board. (The member of the Appearance Review Board shall be selected by the Appearance Review Board.) 

The ordinance states the following: 
  1. The establishment of the CVDRC will create sufficient betterment to the community to justify the City Council’s delegation of a portion of its authority; and 
  2. The CVDRC is a better option than any other board, public or private, already in existence that could serve the same purpose; and 
  3. The costs, both direct and indirect, of establishing and maintaining the board do not offset its potential benefit; and 
  4. The CVDRC is not likely necessary to enable the City to obtain state of federal grants or other financing; and 
  5. The CVDRC is not likely necessary in order to comply with state or federal legislation; and 
  6. The CVDRC shall not have bonding authority; and 
  7. The CVDRC shall not have final authority to enter into contracts and spend City funds; and 
  8. The creation of the CVDRC is the best method of achieving the benefit desired. 

Subject Matter Jurisdiction:
  1. Major certificate of appearance approval as provided by Part 4F, Chapter 65 of this code. 
  2. Minor certificate of appearance approval when the applicant seeks reconsideration of a denial or approval with conditions by the appearance review official as provided by section 65.513 of this code. 
  3. Specific parcel master plan as required by the Creative Village planned development zoning ordinance. 
  4. Conditional use permit as provided by Part 2D, Chapter 65 of this code. 
  5. Zoning variances (including design variances) as provided by Part 2J, Chapter 65 of this code. 
  6. Major subdivision plat as provided by Part 3D, Chapter 65 of this code. 
  7. Abandonments of streets and rights-of-way as provided by Part 4E, Chapter 65 of this code. 
  8. Master plan (including without limitation plans for public improvements) as required by the Creative Village planned development zoning ordinance. 
  9. Street name change as provided by Part 4I, Chapter 65 of this code. 
  10. Any other land development order required by the Creative Village planned development zoning ordinance.    

Downtown Sports Themed Mural Project Seeks Artists for

The City of Orlando’s Downtown Development Board (DDB) is seeking artists to submit for a new project! They want to incorporate the four professional sports teams in Orlando in a unique and original mural for a wall within the Downtown Orlando Information Center, located at 201 South Orange Avenue.

Submissions opened on Tuesday, January 17. 
Deadline for submission is Friday, February 17.

View Submission Requirements

View Submission Form


Historic Landmark Designation Amendments Update Criteria to Match National Register Program

The City saved one Lake Eola house because it knocked down the other three READ HERE

The first reading of proposed ordinance #2017-3 will take place at City Council on January 23rd. The ordinance would amend section 65.720, Orlando City Code, (relating to the designation of Orlando historic landmarks) to:
  1. Update the criteria for evaluation and the criteria considerations to match the standards of the federal government's National Register program.
  2. Require consent from property owners before their property could be nominated for landmark designation.
  3. Streamline the landmark review process by eliminating review by the Municipal Planning Board.

  1. City Names Downtown Home a Landmark because it Demolished the Other Three
  2. City Board Says 1978 Downtown Orlando Bob Carr Center is a Historic Landmark
  3. Historical Landmark Status Granted to Davis Armory in Creative Village

Downtown Balcony Restoration Coming to 28 West Central Boulevard Building

Empire Florida, Ltd., has applied for assistance under the Downtown Façade and Building Stabilization Program for façade improvements to the property at 28 West Central Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32801 (MAP), which is located within the Downtown Historic District. Funding would be used to restore the balcony and the deck with frontage on West Central Boulevard. 

The Program offers a three-year, interest-free deferred loan for façade and/or building stabilization improvements to existing properties within the Downtown Community Redevelopment Area ("Downtown CRA"). The Program, which was approved by the CRA on July 30, 2012, provides assistance with costs related to exterior physical improvements throughout the entire Downtown CRA, as well as building stabilization improvements within the Parramore Heritage Area of the Downtown CRA. The Program offers matching funds to off-set the costs of eligible improvements.

The Program provides an opportunity for the CRA to reimburse up to 50 percent of the project cost, based upon the lowest estimates, but not to exceed $20,000.00 for eligible properties making façade improvements to commercial buildings within the CRA’s Planning Area.

The applicant's capital investment for the proposed improvements is estimated at $43,190.00, which is the lowest of three contractor estimates provided for the above referenced improvements, thus they are eligible for funding assistance of up to $20,000.00. The Downtown Façade Grant Review Committee convened on December 16, 2016 and made a recommendation of approval for funding assistance of up to $20,000.00 toward the proposed façade improvements to 28 West Central Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32801.

Magnolia Hotel to Pay City $50K To Re-Route Bike Trail Beneath SR408

We told you about the Magnolia Hotel in August 2016. The 126-room Magnolia Hotel with first floor restaurant and off-site valet parking at 500 S. Magnolia Ave (MAP) is paying the City of Orlando $50,000 to re-route the City's planned bike trail to go closer to the hotel below the State Road-408 overpasses. This would add an additional 500 feet and additional costs to the City, hence the $50,000 price tag. The deal goes before City Council on January 23rd.

This is the perfect spot for doing special events, right?

Where the hotel will one day sit, across from the Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Parramore Bus Rapid Transit Needs Another Hundred Grand

The City of Orlando and LYNX have two Interlocal Agreements stating that (1) the City will provide design, engineering and construction of a bus rapid transit (BRT) extension of the LYMMO system to serve the Parramore community west of I-4 and the Creative Village and that (2) LYNX will reimburse the City up to $498,108.00 for those services. A request by the City and LYNX for the reimbursement mount to raise $100,000.00 goes before City Council on January 23. 

Realtor Appeals Duplex and Tandem Development Amendment

The City is proposing to amend the land development code to change the regulations for building duplexes and tandem single family homes.

The majority of such development is in the R-2A and R-2B zoning districts.  In order to maintain the character of existing neighborhoods, the code needs to be changed to provide standards that maintain the positive elements of the neighborhood such as tree cover, cohesive architectural styles, and minimal curb cuts.

Further, the proposed changes will help to mitigate the potential negative impacts of large building mass and multiple parked cars.  The proposed changes will not reduce the number of lots where duplex or tandem development is allowed.

The Municipal Planning Board held a public hearing on LDC2014-00363 on December 20, 2016 and voted to recommend approval of the proposed code amendments. 

David Rose filed a legislative appeal to the LDC Amendment for Duplex and Tandem Development Amendment (LDC2014-00363) after it got approved by Municipal Planning Board at the December 20th meeting. The appeal goes before City Council on January 23rd.

If the City Council recommends approval of the proposed code amendments at the January 23rd Council meeting, an ordinance will be prepared for consideration at a future City Council meeting.

Summary of concerns by the appellant David Rose:
  1. "The new ordinance is not consistent with City policies requiring the Land Development Code to be guided by 'smart growth.'"  Staff Response: Objective 1.5 in the Future Land Use Element of the City’s Growth Management Plan (GMP) states that “The City shall provide policy and program mechanisms which further the principles of sustainability and Smart Growth, including:...encouraging walkable neighborhoods with a mix of uses; fostering a strong sense of place; directing development toward existing communities and infill opportunities...” Policy 1.1.2 states, “The existing land use pattern of employment, housing and commerce in the Traditional City shall be preserved and enhanced. The City’s Land Development Regulations shall encourage rehabilitation, revitalization and private investment in the Traditional City by preserving and improving the quality of the urban environment.” The proposed changes are consistent with the Growth Management Plan and will help to ensure that the existing land use pattern is preserved and enhanced, while supporting appropriate infill development.
  2.  "The new ordinance will interact with existing ordinances on a typical traditional City lot. In other words can an actual marketable duplex be built on a typical lot given the complexity of ALL building requirements."  Staff Response: GMP Urban Design Element Objective 5.2 calls for the City to “adopt urban design standards to promote positive design elements of the Traditional City in R-2A/T and R- 2B/T zoning districts.” Associated Policy 5.2.1 identifies issues such as building mass, garage frontage, and discouraging monotony, that should be addressed by the design standards. The proposed changes meet the intent of the GMP while providing flexibility for design of duplexes. It is true that in some cases the design or layout may be different from what developers are used to, and they may need to make adjustments. As the new code is implemented, staff will work with applicants to address any design challenges they encounter prior to permitting. In addition, applicants may pursue a design variance if a unique challenge cannot be addressed by the standard code requirements. 
  3. "The new ordinance will negatively impact the quality of housing in the traditional City and reduce the amount of moderate priced housing available." Staff Response: The proposed changes are specifically intended to improve the character and quality of duplex and tandem housing. Approximately 22 duplex units were built in the City in 2015. While that number may increase over time, it is a small fraction of citywide development, which was 2,182 units in 2015. Housing affordability is unlikely to change substantially based on a small portion of the market. The proposed changes are needed because they have a disproportionate impact on existing neighborhoods, not because they are expected to become a primary component of the City’s housing market.

As you may recall, the issue of duplexes in Orlando was a major story in 2016:
  1. 60 Historic Milk District Homes Demolished for 120 Rental Duplex Units
  2. Duplex Boom - How the Duplex Shat Up Downtown Orlando
  3. Shitty Duplexes Get Public Hearing
  4. City's Duplex Design to be Altered
  5. Milk District Duplexes Defended by Wonus
  6. College Park Duplex Developer May Side-Step Zoning to Double Their Money
  7. The Milk District to be the New Thornton Park aka #wonustown

And yet despite all the public uproar both online and off, staff received approximately 40 emails and letters during 2016 and the responses were evenly mixed between those who support the changes, and those who are opposed. There is also a small group who does not support the changes because they would prefer to ban or further restrict duplex locations.

At the December 20th Municipal Planning Board meeting, eight of of the eleven citizens who showed up to speak were in opposition of the amendment: 
  1. William Murphy, 840 Kenilworth Terrace, Orlando, FL 32803, spoke on his behalf, in opposition of the request. His main concerns were: He believes tandems on corner lots are a bad idea and impact fees for tandems are more for permitting. 90% of duplex lots in Orlando are 50 ft. lots. Important to let garages remain. Most popular duplex is side by side so both residents can have backyards. Important to send public notices out to all homeowners affected by this land development code change. Mr. Murphy requested the Board vote no or table the request until all homeowners had been notified. 
  2. David Rose, 2111 Gerda Terrace, Orlando, FL 32804, spoke on his behalf in opposition of the request. He believes the code amendment adds extremely restrictive conditions and strips the homeowners of their current rights. He requested the City send good faith notifications to all property owners affected. 
  3. Steve Allen Sharp, 351 E. Citrus St., Altamonte Springs, FL 32701, spoke on behalf of Classical Traditions business located at 321 Montgomery Rd. #161312, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, in opposition of the request. He stated that the proposal had pros and cons and would like to be invited to the next workshop. 
  4. Ed Avellaneda, 3535 Dubsdread Cir. Orlando, FL 32804, spoke on his behalf in opposition of the request. Mr. Avellaneda noted that the proposed City rules were not feasible and might be creating a bigger problem. He was concerned about the economic impact it might have. He also stated that proposing an FAR for single-family homes would give R1 parcel owners the same limitations as R2 parcel owners. 
  5. Angela Guthrie, 1305 Belgrade Ave., Orlando, FL 32803, spoke in favor of the request. She noted that canopy trees have been torn down due to the duplex and tandem developments. She stated that 95% of the residents in Colonialtown were appalled by these developments which were destroying the characteristics of their neighborhoods. 
  6. Noah Adelman, 2025 Illinois St., Orlando, FL 32803 – Had to leave and did not have the chance to speak, but he requested to be noted in the records as a proponent of the request. 
  7. Tim Ackert, 915 Palm Dr., Orlando, FL 32803, spoke on his behalf and on behalf of his father-in-law in favor of the request. He stated that many of the previous speakers opposed to the request were developers concerned about their profits. Mr. Ackert stated that he can’t drive safely down the streets where there are tandems and duplexes because there is never enough parking and people will block the sidewalks or park on both sides of the street. This affects the neighborhood by not having enough sidewalks. He requested to keep the ambiance of the neighborhood by restricting these developments. 
  8. Frankie Elliott, 1330 Lee Rd., Orlando, FL 32828, spoke on behalf of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association with concerns in terms of the process. She requested that every time the City added a requirement with enough and/or significant changes, that all property owners should be notified. 
  9. Jeff Schnellmann, 1303 Alberta Dr., Winter Park, FL 32789, spoke on behalf of Greater Orlando Builders Association in opposition of the request. His main concerns were: Was opposed to limiting people’s property rights. Currently single-family homes don’t have an FAR limitation. Opposed to the City telling a property owner what their house should look like. Mr. Schnellmann stated that this is what HOA’s (Home Owner’s Association) do and people like to live in the City because they don’t have HOA’s.It is very challenging to build a home in the Traditional City and with the proposed changes it would be even more challenging and expensive. 
  10. David Rasmussen, 1460 Holts Grove Circle, Winter Park, FL 32789, spoke on his behalf in opposition of some parts of the request and in favor of other parts of the request. He noted the following: In favor of restricting the big box duplex developments that don’t fit into the character of the neighborhood. Not in favor of the FAR reduction in Colonialtown; stated it was discriminatory. Concerned that 95% of the property owners don’t have an idea of what’s going on with their properties. Mr. Rasmussen suggested to have infill lots that were small 1 or 2 bedrooms that were affordable; to restrict tandems and duplexes to corner lots; and requested to meet with staff and invite the neighborhood to a workshop. 
  11. Sandra Greer, 1504 Canton St., Orlando, FL 32803, spoke on her behalf and on behalf of the Colonialtown residents. She stated that a packet was submitted to the Board last year with a signed petition, pictures and written responses. Ms. Greer stated she was opposed to front to back duplexes because she would have a neighbor’s front door at the front of her house and a neighbor’s front door at her backyard as well. She noted that she didn’t feel the garage and parking changes would make a difference. Ms. Greer is in favor of the FAR reduction but does not believe tandems should be permitted in corner lots.


Universal City Florida Lot 2A Second Replat

Universal City Development Partners (About), owner of Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure theme parks, submitted a replat request to reconfigure two (2) existing parcels and to create a stand-alone retention tract for existing development within a portion of the Universal hotel/resort parcels at 6723 Adventure Way (MAP). This is the site of the new Sapphire Falls Resort (Website).